What I'm Watching: Occupation

An attempt to do a big science fiction war movie. For Australia, it's very ambitious.

What works: Special effects and explosive squibs are competent. The actors are mostly good, though the hero's a doofus. I didn't hate anyone or anything, though it falls far short of respect.

What doesn't: Almost everything else. It's like the writer saw Independence Day, but didn't have the skill to produce all the intertwined plots, and really didn't have the budget, so it's just the grubby resistance in a single forest. Despite a high female cast, I'm not sure it ever passes the Bechdel test; a male character calls the female Army leader a ball-buster, and Strine misogyny isn't subtle throughout. There are several Asian characters who are treated well, but rather blatantly no Aborigines, who you'd expect would survive well in this environment; but they may be on the side of the invaders since the white fuckers are finally getting what's coming to them.

15 minutes of Australian hooligans doing road work, dating, and playing sportsball, before spaceships with searchlights fly over and shoot up everything. Yee-haw. Then alien infantry who look just like Humans in armor march around with plastic toy rifles shooting buildings. They're completely inaccurate, which is weird for beings that can cross interstellar distances. A dozen local idiots, the protagonists, escape in a camper van, which should be an obvious target for the aliens, but they never seem to be able to hit it. Finally the Strine Air Force manage to shoot an alien down, which again seems implausible for advanced aliens.

There's some ludicrously dramatic "pose as a team" scenes, and a lot of whining and sniping at each other, I think intended to make them feel like a team coming together.

The alien infantry don't have thermal sensors, and are all but blind, they just walk past people hiding in tin shacks and under blankets like children. The armor isn't totally useless, for once, but their guns aren't security-locked, so any monkey can grab one and shoot it. They walk into hostile-occupied buildings and just wander around alone so a group of monkeys can overwhelm them. These idiots are incompetent. The US military is better equipped and trained.

What follows is a training and war montage based on Ewoks vs Stormtroopers, except the Stormtroopers here are even worse idiots. And the Ewoks are so dumb they throw phones containing explosive batteries into a fire (but the filmmakers don't understand the consequences).

The Strine military finally shows up again, which ends the insurgency. I don't believe any of these people could have survived, the military doesn't know how to hide, and does stupid standup fights. While the aliens have shown no cunning or skill, they have apparently endless forces and better weapons.

Of course there's an explanation at last, and it's stupid: The aliens devastated their planet, and we're polluters, so they'll take Earth. But if they already have interstellar ships, they don't need planets, and anyway could've just bought Australia for a few spaceships.

The happy ending is so out of place and not how things work, I dunno what the writer was on.

I'm not unamused by the film, but it's a trainwreck.

★★½☆☆

Leave a Reply